Brooke County 911 tower project progressing

WELLSBURG — It’s been a year in the planning, but Brooke County Commissioner Stacey Wise said the county is close to adding a new 911 tower.

“We started this process in September 2018,” she said during Tuesday’s commission meeting. “It’s been a year, but we are almost there. I have sticky notes all over the floor in my second office (detailing what must be done.)”

Sheriff Larry Palmer has explained in the past firefighters and others responding to emergencies in hollows and other areas are accustomed to radio signals being blocked by nearby hills.

He said three strategically placed repeater towers have helped to alleviate the problem but not entirely.

Palmer said, in addition to geographical issues, the county’s first responders are using a 20-year-old communication system.

He said it would benefit from the use of a 50-foot radio tower overlooking the county, but its signals have interfered with the frequencies of departments and businesses in the Pittsburgh area at a time when many entities are jockeying for space on radio bands.

Wise said that while the interference may still be a problem, they are hoping the new system and tower will minimalize the issue.

She and Commissioner A.J. Thomas asked the sheriff’s department to give them a list of all the things that cause problems for the first responders.

“We can look at everything and figure out how to fix it,” Wise said.

The sheriff’s department also announced it received a grant and has ordered a new metal detector and four new hand-held wands for the department. The new equipment will be used at the courthouse and the county magistrate office.

Wise also took time to thank the new cleaning staff at the courthouse, Larry Wallbrown and his assistant, Paula Smith.

“Our building hasn’t looked this good in a long time,” she said. “They really work hard and anyone that comes into the Brooke County Courthouse can be proud. (Wallbrown) also took care of putting up the awning outside.”

Commissioner Tim Ennis was absent from the meeting.

(Neeley can be contacted at aneeley@heraldstaronline.com)